UN double standard on Israel spurs Republican hopefuls

Donald Trump and his rivals look to cash in on Jewish disillusionment with the global organisation


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 22, 2023. Netanyahu called for arch-enemy Iran to face a "credible" threat of nuclear attack to stop the clerical state from obtaining an atom bomb. "Above all -- above all -- Iran must face a credible nuclear threat. As long as I'm prime minister of Israel, I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons," Netanyahu told the assembly (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

November 29, 2023 14:52

The quiet tears at the Thanksgiving dinner table were laced with guilt. There is so much for the Jewish community to feel thankful for in America: safety, family and health. But such thoughts can feel indulgent when loved ones are suffering terribly.

The father called up by the IDF, leaving his four children and wife at home in the US praying for him. The Israeli friend from summer camp in years gone by, taken hostage by Hamas and held for yet another terrifying day in Gaza. The young soldier who can’t see his family -- who travelled to Israel to see him over Thanksgiving -- after his IDF unit wasn’t allowed off base because they are so scarred by fighting in Gaza that they didn’t pass their psychiatric evaluations. And family in Israel who, as usual, are putting on a brave face, but look more concerned than ever.

The ties between Israel and the New York and New Jersey Jewish communities are so strong that it feels as if they could both be a suburb of Tel Aviv, even if Israel could fit into both states seven times over.

As well as what everyone seated at the table is thankful for, conversation turns to those who have stood up for the Jewish community in this defining moment and those who have ignored and even endangered it.

Joe Biden has impressed as a stalwart supporter of Israel, but he is a remnant of a Democrat party that barely exists anymore at the grassroots level. The modern party is the party of college campus protest, the Hamas-friendly New York Times and progressive ideas that exclude funding Israel.

The Republican frontrunners have also impressed with their steadfast support on the key issues. And they have taken it a step further. They are promising to take on organisations that have abandoned the Jewish community and Israel and, in so doing, their own principles too.

Jewish Democrats who were last tempted to vote Republican when Mitt Romney was on the ticket are having their heads turned. Old allegiances are changing.

As if to highlight the point, shortly after Thanksgiving, the UN finally broke its 49-day silence on multiple horrific rapes committed by Hamas terrorists.

In a short statement, U.N. Women -- led by Jordanian Sima Sami Bahous -- said its officials had met with Israeli women’s groups and were “alarmed by gender-based violence reports on 7 October”.

These “reports” refer to harrowing testimony from witnesses who revealed unimaginable depravity including the gang rape of a woman at the Nova festival whose breast was chopped off during the attack before she was killed with a bullet to the head by a terrorist as he raped her.

Even writing those words is difficult. For the worldwide HQ for women to ignore that kind of testimony is unforgivable. And when, in finally acknowledging it, they say such bestiality sparks merely “alarm” it’s indicative of a complete dehumanisation of Israeli women and utter dereliction of their primary duty.

In contrast, two hours later, UN Women issued an unambiguous statement offering “support to women and girls in Gaza” about whom they were “deeply concerned”.

This is a microcosm, but hardly the most egregious example, of the double standards that have always dogged the UN.

What is new is the anger that bias has generated among the leading Republican presidential contenders.

It chafes now more than ever that the UN is funded to the tune of $12 billion by the US taxpayer yet is working against US interests.

And that genuinely should spark alarm at the UN -- even if, astonishingly, rape as a weapon of war doesn’t -- because the three Republican frontrunners have all vowed to defund it.

Donald Trump did just that before Joe Biden reversed his policy. He pulled $350 million from the UN Palestinian agency and withdrew from the Human Rights Council.

While Trump has yet to speak about the issue again, it’s a safe bet that he will implement it a second time, and more than likely, supercharge it.

Nikki Haley, his former ambassador to the UN, has vowed to “defund the UN as much as possible”. Ron DeSantis said: “No longer should American taxpayer dollars support this … hotbed of antisemitism’.

The next time Jewish families are seated together for Thanksgiving, the presidential election -- and almost certainly the Israel-Gaza war -- will be over. Many more tears will have been shed and lives altered. But in the aftermath of that grief and chaos there will be rare, albeit hard to grasp, opportunities. There is a chance that the region can be reformed after Hamas is obliterated. And there is a chance that the worldview controlled by the UN of the only Jewish state and its inhabitants will be moderated. If not, there is perhaps a greater chance that the organisation will finally have to pay for its anti-Israel bias.

November 29, 2023 14:52

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive